Health

What Does Insulin Actually Do?

Diabetes is a fairly common condition around the world. According to the CDC, 463 million adults have the condition across the planet, but 34.2 million people have it in the United States.

What’s Insulin?

First, we need to explain, “What’s insulin?” The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin, and it is highly important for the functioning of the human body. Insulin is the reason that your body can use the glucose it gets from your food as energy.

Insulin interacts with glucose in the following manner:

  • You eat foods that contain carbohydrates. Your body breaks down these carbohydrates in your digestive tract and converts them into “glucose.”
  • Next, your bloodstream receives this glucose through the lining of your small intestine.
  • The body senses that glucose is in your system, so insulin sends signals to the beta cells in your body so that they can absorb this sugar and use it as energy.

High Blood Sugar

In addition to the cycle described above, insulin also ensures that your glucose levels remain balanced. Therefore, if there is too much glucose in your bloodstream, the insulin will send signals to your beta cells that tell them to send the excess glucose to your liver. Your liver will release the glucose it contains when your glucose levels decrease. This usually occurs when you are feeling hungry. It also happens when you need an extra amount of energy.

Low Blood Sugar

When your blood sugar is low, insulin stimulates another set of cells that reside within the pancreas to release “glucagon.” Sugar exists as “glycogen” in your liver, and when your blood sugar is low, your pancreas releases glucagon so that it can break down the glycogen and send it to your bloodstream. The pancreas releases insulin and glucagon so that glucose remains at a steady level throughout the day.

The Pros and Cons

The cycle is a very positive one when it is working as it was described above, but it begins to break down when diabetes affects your pancreas. The following two types of diabetes can present themselves in the lives of children and adults:

Type I Diabetes

This form usually begins in childhood. It is when the body attacks and destroys the beta cells that are responsible for storing insulin. Therefore, it is known as an “autoimmune disorder.”

Type II Diabetes

Adults and children can experience this type of diabetes. The pancreas begins to have difficulties releasing insulin into the bloodstream. Then, the cells begin to have trouble using insulin. It is a disease that commonly occurs when someone is obese.

After someone has been diagnosed with diabetes, he or she must follow up with a physician. You may need to replace insulin with an external source, and your physician will decide which one is right for you. Therefore, you will need to learn to check your glucose levels so that you can administer glucose when you need to do so.

Tandem Diabetes Care is one resource that can be of help to you if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with diabetes. Along with your physician, nurses and diabetes educators, it will be a place where you can obtain the best information on diabetes.

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